As the NFL season winds to a close, there are two pathetic realities playing out in front of millions of fans on a weekly basis.
1) Roughly one-third of the NFL is lacking a legitimate starting quarterback.
2) Roughly one-half of the NFL is in desperate need of a new offensive line.
While the second point absolutely makes a direct impact on the first, the quarterback problems in the NFL are both sad and, at times, laughable.
In spite of arguably the best class of rookie quarterbacks in almost 30 years, the league still doesn't have enough quality signal callers to go around. And, in some cities, teams that have a good one are also hoarding a second honest-to-goodness starter as their backup.
Between the end of the regular season and the 2013 NFL Draft, a number of teams will undoubtedly go shopping for a new quarterback. Other teams, that might have a second (more expensive) quarterback on their roster, might be able/willing to part ways with their depth considering the potential premium being placed on average NFL quarterbacks ahead of a below-average draft class at the position.
Today, the top quarterbacks coming out in the 2013 Draft appear to be USC's Matt Barkley and West Virginia's Geno Smith. But neither of them is getting the kind of awe-inspiring reviews from scouts that even third round pick (and now Seahawks starter) Russell Wilson got going into last year's selections.
Here are a few teams that will be looking for a quarterback, and a few teams that might be willing trade partners.
- Definitely Shopping
1. Kansas City Chiefs
Their fans infamously cheered as Matt Cassell was assisted off the field, and they can actually say their "best" quarterback this year has been Brady Quinn. They're in position to be at the top of the 2013 NFL Draft, but might not be willing to wait for a youngster to develop.
2. Oakland Raiders
They paid a king's ransom for Carson Palmer last season, and his play this season indicates he should have stayed retired. They have intriguing skill position players around Palmer, but he simply isn't getting it done. They did invest a supplemental pick in Terrelle Pryor, but haven't given him much of an opportunity to earn playing time. Again, they might be looking for a veteran before using another pick on a quarterback.
3. Arizona Cardinals
The quarterback position has been a biblical disaster in Arizona this year. They overpaid for Kevin Kolb a couple years ago, and he's been bad; he was put on IR on Wednesday, which might signal the end of his time in the desert. They might be willing to draft a quarterback this year.
- Might Be Shopping
1. Jacksonville Jaguars
They used a first round pick on Blaine Gabbert, but new ownership might want to go a different direction after another bad season. If they want to give Gabbert more time to develop, they might be looking for a short-term veteran rental.
2. Tennessee Titans
Like Jacksonville, they recently invested a high pick in Jake Locker. Locker has shown flashes of being a capable NFL quarterback, but injuries haven't help his development.
3. Minnesota Vikings
Again, a recent high pick - Christian Ponder - hasn't fulfilled the expectations of fans and many veteran quarterbacks would undoubtedly love giving the ball to Adrian Peterson 25-30 times each week.
4. Buffalo Bills
Buffalo didn't invest a high draft pick in a quarterback in the last couple years, but they did make a major financial decision to make Ryan Fitzpatrick their long-term answer at the position. Since signing his six-year, $59 million extension (including $24 million in guaranteed money), he's been less than adequate. Buffalo might look to part ways with him, and could be willing to start over thru the draft in April.
- Buying and Selling?
1. New York Jets
There could be a lot of changes with the Jets this offseason, starting with the coaching staff. A new coach might be willing to give Mark Sanchez a few more chances, but the Jets might want to simply start fresh and make a move. There could still be value in Sanchez given the seven teams we've already listed, so moving him and bringing in a new face might be in the cards for the Jets.
2. Philadelphia Eagles
Same story here as we outlined with the Jets. Andy Reid will probably not be back in Philly, which means the Eagles will have a new head coach and general manager. That new regime might not want to go into another season with Michael Vick's contract (and health questions) on the payroll, and the next three weeks will provide plenty of tape for the new decision makers to use in evaluating Nick Foles.
There are nine teams that have significant quarterback concerns heading into this offseason.
Who are some of the quarterbacks currently in the NFL that could fill these holes in 2013? Let's take a look.
- Trade Bait & Free Agent Fodder
1. Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers
It's becoming clear that Colin Kaepernick can handle the NFL game, and that Smith's multi-million dollar bonus won't be paid by the Niners when it comes due. With that being said, San Francisco would probably prefer he didn't end up with division rival Arizona, so trading him to one of the AFC teams looking for a consistent option under center could make a lot of sense.
2. Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins
This is the name I think will be a sleeper for a big trade before/during the 2013 NFL Draft. Cousins would have probably been among the top-three quarterbacks in this year's class, and will have a full NFL season under his belt (albeit as a backup to another rookie in Washington). The Redskins paid a premium to move up and get RGIII in the 2012 Draft, but showed great vision in coming back with Cousins later in the same Draft. He's young, but can play and might be an intriguing name for teams looking to trade.
3. Drew Stanton, Indianapolis Colts
A second graduate of Michigan State in our top three, Stanton has a lot of physical skill but simply hasn't been given much playing time. With Andrew Luck clearly the quarterback of the future in Indy, the Colts might choose to let Stanton leave as a free agent.
4. Chad Henne, Jacksonville Jaguars
Once the Jags made the change at quarterback their season... stayed stuck in neutral. But Henne is healthy again and could be a decent, affordable stopgap quarterback for a the teams with recent draft picks still developing.
5. Jason Campbell, Chicago Bears
If you believe the analysts outside Chicago that believe he could be a starter in the NFL, someone might be willing to part ways with a late-round pick for a veteran with Campbell's skills and experience. That, of course, assumes the the Bears would be willing to go into another season with a question mark behind Jay Cutler.